The following column was printed in the Delaware Gazette on Aug. 26, 2020.
Contributing columnists: Peg Watkins, chair, Delaware County Democratic Party & Steve Cuckler, chair, Delaware County Republican Party
The majority of the bipartisan poll workers in Ohio and across the country are 60 or older. However, with concerns over COVID-19 and the older population being more at risk, young people are needed to fill these roles. We are joining together as Democrats and Republicans to urge young, healthy Ohioans (including high school seniors, recent graduates and veterans) to step up and sign up to be a paid poll worker.
What is expected of you
Paid poll workers, also known as “precinct election officials” or PEOs, must complete a training prior to Election Day. Experienced election workers may complete a virtual training to allow social distancing for in-person trainings. The Board of Elections will also work with you to ensure you are trained at your comfort level.
Workers are assigned to a specific polling location, often their own location. They must assist with setup in the evening on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. The Voting Location Manager (VLM), who is in charge of the polling location, will contact all election officials about the specific setup time.
On Election Day, workers manage ballots and supplies; open and close the polling locations; and oversee the casting of ballots throughout Election Day. Workers must arrive at their polling location at the time designated by their VLM, typically around 5:30 a.m. Polls are open 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. and workers will clean and pack up the polling location after the polls close. Poll workers are typically finished by 8:30 p.m.
You get paid and some people can get special credit!
While it’s a long day, you get paid $155 to attend training, attend setup and work on Election Day. In addition, certain groups can get extra benefits:
- High school students should work with their schools to earn an excused absence and potentially credit for working the polls.
- Attorneys and social workers can receive credit toward their mandatory continuing education.
- Ohio Certified Public Accountants can obtain required Continuing Public Education (CPE) general credits.
Why it’s a great experience
Being a Poll Worker helps you gain confidence in our election process. You are trained to follow the law and check that the voter is eligible to vote, check them in, and show them how to use the voting machine. You are also trained to handle various scenarios that may be out of the ordinary. For example, what to do if someone comes up in the system as having requested an absentee ballot but would like to vote in person, or if their address does not match in the system.
You often serve at your own polling location, so you get to serve with many of your neighbors and see many others as they come through to vote. In addition, all poll locations have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans working. So, you are able to join together with those with whom you may differ in opinion on some issues, but agree on ensuring a safe and fair election!
How the Delaware County Board of Elections is keeping workers safe this year
The Delaware County Board of Elections shared safety guidelines for this November that included:
- Each poll location will have a layout and signage for voter check-in, voting booths and equipment, spaced six feet apart.
- Poll workers will be provided with face masks, face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes for the electronic poll books, tables, door handles and other equipment.
- The BOE website and social media will advise voters to maintain six feet of separation at the polling place and should bring their own mask. Pens, hand sanitizer and masks will be available.
More information on being a poll worker may be found at https://vote.delawarecountyohio.gov/get-involved/. Please sign up to be a poll worker this year by contacting:
Ali M. Solove